Don’t Give Winter Exercise the Cold Shoulder

Health Tips

As the winter season rolls around do you find yourself hibernating instead of exercising?  You can make plenty of excuses to give up your regular exercise routine, including  it’s too cold, it’s snowing or it gets dark too early.  However, avoiding activity all winter could result in winter weight gain.

Don’t let the weather ruin your workout plans.  Try to set aside 30 minutes five days a week for some type of physical activity.  By dressing properly and heeding cold weather safety tips, you can usually exercise year round outdoors.  Keep in mind that a little snow can be fun!  Here are some snow-filled activities to keep you moving:

  • Go sledding.
  • Build snowmen, igloos and forts.
  • Play tag in the snow or engage in a friendly snowball fight.
  • Go skiing.
  • Go ice skating.

If you have a heart or vascular condition including high blood pressure or a history of heart attack or stroke, you should talk to your doctor about your exercise routine. While shoveling snow can provide a great cardiovascular workout, it should not be done by anyone with an underlying health condition.

Dress for the Season

Before you head outside, dress for the weather. Layering clothing allows you to remove outer layers when you start to sweat and add them back when needed. Look for fabrics that wick moisture away from your body to use for your innermost layer. Cotton is usually not a good choice since it stays wet. Lightweight fleece adds warmth without bulk and can be followed by a waterproof, breathable top layer.

If you have asthma, you may find that wearing a long scarf draped across your mouth and nose will help you avoid problems. Everyone should wear some type of head covering such as a knit cap or hat to prevent heat from escaping through your head. Gloves and thermal socks will keep your hands and feet warm while you’re outside.

Don’t forget that you still can get sunburned, even in the winter. The sun reflecting off snow can leave you with a painful burn. Use a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Your lip balm should contain sunscreen as well. You also should protect your eyes from the sun’s glare with sunglasses or appropriately tinted goggles.

The Great Indoors

Can’t talk yourself into getting bundled up and heading outside for some physical activity?  You can still get busy indoors!  Here are a few ideas:

  • Play an indoor sport at the gym such as racquetball or basketball.
  • Vacuum or scrub floors (yes, you can burn calories!).
  • Go mall walking. A brisk 30-minute walk around the mall before you begin your shopping can meet your daily exercise goal.
  • Play chasing games with children.
  • Clean out closets or your garage.
  • Find a great new exercise video or DVD to get you moving.
  • Play some music and get dancing. It doesn’t matter if you have no sense of rhythm or don’t know the latest dance steps. Just move your body and have some fun.

Whatever your activity, don’t let winter weather keep your energy down and weight up.    Get up and go!

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